10 Best Credit Card Sign-Up Bonuses For May

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Update: Many of these offers are expired or outdated. Please check out the current list of the best travel credit cards.

Every month I make a post with what I consider to be the best credit card sign-up bonuses of the month.

While there are several excellent long standing credit card offers, the specifics of the best offers are constantly changing (be it the annual fee, minimum spend requirement, or even amount of the sign-up bonus).

If you read my blog on a daily basis then by all means skip this post, but for me it’s a useful, “current” place to refer people that ask about which cards they should sign-up for, a question I get a daily basis. For reference, here is my list of the best credit card sign up bonuses for April.

With that in mind, here are what I consider to be the 11 best credit card sign-up bonuses for this month (one more than usual, but it’s an especially good month for credit card offers):

1. Citi Executive AAdvantage World Elite Mastercard

Current offer: 100,000 AAdvantage miles after spending $10,000 within three months, plus $200 statement credit
Annual fee: $450

Why it’s a great offer: This is the first 100,000 mile sign-up bonus I’ve ever seen on a card accruing AAdvantage miles, and I’m amazed how long it has lasted.

While the minimum spend is high and annual fee is hefty, you do get a $200 statement credit, which basically brings down the annual fee to $250. Furthermore, the card comes with Admirals Club access, which is useful since as of March 22, 2014, American Express Platinum cardmembers no longer have access to Admirals Clubs. It’s also worth nothing that some have had luck earning the sign-up bonus on this card multiple times.

At least until recently I valued American miles at ~1.8 cents each, so this sign-up bonus is worth $1,550 to me ($1,800, minus the $250 annual fee after you factor in the $200 statement credit).

Citi-Executive-Bonus

2. Ink Plus® Business Credit Card and Ink Bold® Business Charge Card

Current offer: 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $5,000 within three months
Annual fee: $95, waived the first year

Why it’s a great offer: This is a limited time increased sign-up bonus on the card, which is 20% higher than the normal bonus. Both cards accrue Ultimate Rewards points, which I find incredibly valuable due to their extensive transfer partners. The Ink cards have a competitive sign-up bonus, and generous category bonuses which help sole proprietorships and small businesses maximize points on everyday credit card spend, including 5x points at office supply stores, and on cell phones, internet, and cable TV, and double points on gas and hotels.

So this is a card that’s good for both for the sign-up bonus and for everyday spend. I value Ultimate Rewards points at 1.5 cents each, so to me these points are worth $900.

3. Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®

Current offer: 50,000 AAdvantage miles after spending $3,000 within three months
Annual fee: $95, waived the first year

Why it’s a great offer: American miles are extremely valuable for OneWorld travel, and offer some of the best premium cabin redemptions out there, like first class between the US and Asia on Cathay Pacific for 67,500 miles one-way. Using a valuation of 1.8 cents per mile, this sign-up bonus is worth $900.

The “catch” is that as of a few months ago you typically won’t get approved for a second card if you already have another version of the card. In other words, in the past it was possible to earn the sign-up bonuses on both the Visa and the Mastercard, though at the moment that doesn’t seem to be possible.

4. Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Current offer: 40,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 within three months, plus an additional 5,000 Ultimate Rewards points when you add an authorized user to the card that makes a purchase within three months.
Annual fee: $95, waived the first year

Why it’s a great offer: Ultimate Rewards points can be transferred at a 1:1 ratio to Korean Air, United, Hyatt, and many other programs. The card is also great for everyday spend given that it offers double points on dining and travel. I value the sign-up bonus on this card at $675. This is probably the most-used card in my wallet

5. British Airways Visa Signature® Card

Current offer: 50,000 Avios after spending $2,000 within three months (offer is only available to applicants that haven’t had the card in the last 24 months)
Annual fee:  $0 Intro Annual Fee The First Year, Then $95

Why it’s a great offer: British Airways has a distance based award chart which is extremely lucrative for shorthaul travel, as awards start at just 4,500 Avios one-way. Given that short flights are often disproportionately expensive when paying cash, I’ve found Avios to be incredibly useful. You can also earn a British Airways Travel Together ticket for spending $30,000 on the card in a calendar year.

I value British Airways Avios at 1.3 cents each, so to me the sign up bonus is worth ~$650.

6. US Airways Premier World Mastercard®

Current offer: 40,000 Dividend Miles after the first purchase
Annual fee: $89

Why it’s a great offer: Now that the merger with American is underway, chances are that this card will be discontinued at some point. This is an easy 40,000 Dividend Miles given that you get the miles after the first purchase. I value US Airways miles at 1.6 cents each, so this sign-up bonus is worth ~$550.

For what it’s worth they offered a 35,000 mile sign-up bonus with no annual fee the first year for a long time, though unfortunately that offer is now dead. I’d say this one is pretty comparable, though.

7. The Lufthansa Premier Miles & More World Mastercard®

Current offer: 20,000 Miles & More miles after the first purchase, 30,000 bonus miles after spending $5,000 within 90 days
Annual fee: $79

Why it’s a great offer: The sign-up bonus alone will get you enough miles for three one-way tickets within the US in United two cabin first class or three cabin business class.

8. Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express and Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Card from American Express

Current offer: The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express offers 25,000 bonus Starpoints after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months, and the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express offers 10,000 Starpoints after the first purchase, and 15,000 additional Starpoints after spending $5,000 within six months.
Annual fee: $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $65

Why it’s a great offer: Starpoints remain the most valuable points currency out there to me, and are a great value for both hotel redemptions and airline mileage transfers. I value Starpoints at 2.2 cents each, so this sign-up bonus is worth $550 to me. Terms apply.

9. Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature Card

Current offer: 50,000 points after the first purchase, and an additional 35,000 points after spending $2,500 on the card within 90 days.
Annual fee: $75

Why it’s a great offer: As I’ve written about previously, the Club Carlson card has a ton of value, including 85,000 points after completing the minimum spend, a 40,000 point anniversary bonus, Gold status for as long as you have the card, and most importantly, the second night of award redemptions are free, potentially doubling the value of your points.

You earn 5x points per dollar spent on the card, so once you’ve spent $3,000 on the card you’ll have 100,000 points. Many of Club Carlson’s best hotels cost just 50,000 points per night, so that’s enough points for two sets of two nights at some of Club Carlson’s top properties. You can also redeem points for premium rooms and suites, which really increases the value of these points.

10. Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card

Current offer: Two free weekend nights at most Hilton family properties after spending $2,500 within four months of account opening
Annual fee: $95

Why it’s a great offer: These free night certificates are redeemable all the way up to Category 10 properties, potentially making this sign-up bonus worth the equivalent of 190,000 HHonors points.

So in terms of buying power, the value of these certificates has hugely increased compared to the buying power of HHonors points. Furthermore you get HHonors Gold status for as long as you have the card, which gets you free breakfast and internet. As far as I’m concerned those are the two most useful hotel elite benefits, and you get that all for the low annual fee on the card.

The Chase Hyatt Visa Card and Fairmont Visa Signature Card also offer similar sign-up bonuses of two free nights after completing the minimum spend, though I’d say the thing that gives the Citi Reserve Card the “edge” is that it gets you their mid-tier status as well, which is extremely valuable.

11. Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite Mastercard®

Current offer: 40,000 miles after spending $3,000 within first 90 days
Annual fee: $89, waived the first year

Why it’s a great offer: Each point can be redeemed for one cent towards the cost of travel, and you get a 10% refund of redeemed miles, making each point worth 1.1 cents. This is also a great card to use in conjunction with award tickets on airlines that levy fuel surcharges, so can be a huge cost-saver. This sign-up bonus is therefore worth $440, and you can earn a pretty great 2.2% cash back towards travel for every dollar spent on the card.

Anyway, those are my top 10 cards based on sign-up bonuses this month. If you have any questions or other cards you think have great sign-up bonuses, let me know in the comments section!


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Comments

  1. personally i would rank Ink above AA. there is just too much uncertainty about AA. we only know they will soon be severely devalued, without notice, while we’ll get an email about “enhancements”. Suzanne will be shocked we don’t like the fact that our miles have become worthless overnight.

  2. So I had the aadvantage Visa from Citi about 12 months back and its been about 15 months since I signed up for it. I did cancel it in month 11 right before the annual fee was due.
    I recently got dinged for the Citi Mastercard aadvantage citing the following reason.
    This specific offer is valid only for first-time Citi® / AAdvantage® cardmembers.
    Our records indicate that you previously had a Citi® / AAdvantage® account with us.

    I started doing some research and I think i may have jumped the gun in applying and should have probably waited about 20 odd months before applying.

    Do you know if I can re apply for it in another 5-6 months or would I need to wait 20 months from this point on.
    regards

  3. @ Ben — Have you noticed that the offer terms for all AMEX business cards say “Welcome bonus offer not available to applicants who have or have had this product within the last 12 months.” I was under the impression that AMEX had changed the terms of all card offers, such that all sign-up bonuses were now “once-in-a-lifeime,” so this is great news!

  4. @ Ben — As a follow-up to hitesh’s question is CSP currently being issued as a VISA or Mastercard?

  5. @ Ben — Oh well, we’ve already gotten than bonus. 🙁 We closed our CSP VISA’a about 13 months ago. Any idea how long (if ever) before Chase considers you a “new” customer?

  6. I got the AA Platinum card back in January since its been 65 days could I apply and get a second card like with other Citi cards?

  7. @ Jordan — The Citi AAdvantage Platinum Card is generally not churnable that quickly. You can usually earn the Citi Executive AAdvantage Card bonus multiple times, but not on the Platinum Card.

  8. @ Gene — Yes, I’ve noticed that regarding the terms as well, but in practice am not sure how they enforce that. Wouldn’t totally count on AmEx issuing the bonuses for cards you’ve had before. I’d suggest waiting for some more data points first.

  9. I’m really tempted to try for another AA World Elite MC but scared I won’t get the bonus since I already have the card.

  10. Lucky, Fairmont’ midtier status is very valuable as well, including annual suite upgrade, breakfast certificates, etc.

  11. I got the Executive in Jan, how long should I wait to reapply to get a second card/bonus?

  12. Hi Ben,
    If I make a purchase using a new card, and transfer that balance to my old card, does it still qualify as a valid spending? Thanks Ben!

  13. signed up for the US card, which I don’t intend to fly with. Once they merge with AA, will have 110k points combinedfrom that sign up too. Now wondering what the best use of those miles would be (avoiding YQ), perhaps CX F. with over a million miles in various accounts thinking of Korean LAX to GRU, SQ GRU to Barcelona and then onwards, perhaps to Asian from there on CX. I am thinking getting to NRT amd taking Thai first class to SYD via BKK, another great use of miles.

  14. Actually. I think. I have it now. Korean F to Brazil, Singaore F to Barcelona, Lufty F to Tokyo via Frankfurt.Thai F to Sydney via Bangkok, and then Cathay F Sydney back to US. Might need to top up the AA account but have MR for that. Looks like a plan.

  15. @Ben,
    Say I use my Chase card to make a purchase of $250. Then I transfer a balance of $250 to another card? Would it still constitute a valid for a purpose of spending xxx amount for xxx time for xxx points for the Chase card?

    Thanks Ben!

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